Israel, Palestine to continue peace talks

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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to meet in another two weeks to continue with their peace parleys after the first-round of United States-initiated direct talks.

Special U.S. Envoy for the Middle East Peace, George Mitchell, said the two leaders agreed to meet September 14-15 in the Middle East, although an exact location has not been determined.

Both he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would also be there in the region, Mr. Mitchell said.

“There are differences that must be resolved, but the re-launch of direct negotiations in pursuit of Middle East peace was an important step,” State Department spokesman P J Crowley tweeted at the end of the day.

Mr. Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu agreed that these negotiations can be completed within one year and that the aim of the negotiations is to resolve all core issues.

“The parties agreed that a logical next step would be to begin working on achieving a framework agreement for permanent status,” Mr. Mitchell said.

“The purpose of a framework agreement will be to establish the fundamental compromises necessary to enable them to flesh out and complete a comprehensive treaty that will end the conflict and establish a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said.

The two parties agreed that in their actions and statements they will work to create an atmosphere of trust that will be conducive to reaching a final agreement, Mitchell told reporters at a news briefing.

The United States has pledges its full support to the parties in these talks, he said.

“We will be an active and sustained partner throughout. We will put our full weight behind these negotiations and will stand by the parties as they make the difficult decisions necessary to secure a better future for their citizens,” the Special U.S. Envoy said.

At the same time, he acknowledged that there are those who will use violence to try to derail these talks.

“There are going to be difficult days and many obstacles along the way. We recognise that this is not an easy task. But as the (US) President told the leaders, we expect to continue until our job is complete and successful,” he said.

Responding to questions, Mr. Mitchell said the relationship between the two leaders was cordial.

“As you know, these men have known each other for a long time. This is not the first meeting between them. They are not in any way strangers politically or personally. And I felt that it was a very constructive and positive mood, both in terms of their personal interaction and in terms of the nature of the discussion that occurred,” he said.

“I believe very strongly, deeply, and personally that this conflict can be resolved and that these negotiations can produce a final agreement that enables the establishment of a Palestinian state and peace and security for both peoples,” Mr. Mitchell said.

“It is, of course, self—evident that the reason for a negotiation is that there are differences. The differences are many, they are deep, they are serious, and it will take serious, good—faith negotiations, sincerity on both sides, a willingness to make difficult concessions on both sides if that agreement is to be reached.”

The two leaders —— President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu —— are committed to do what it takes to achieve the right result, he said.


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